Friday, January 27, 2017

Road Food - Scottsdale

I just found out that one of my favorite Scottsdale restaurants, The Coyote Grill, is no more.  For you snowbirds or anyone else who finds themselves in Scottsdale, here are some of our remaining favorite dining options:

Scottsdale, Phoenix's tonier next door neighbor, continues to be a big draw for us. It's a wonderful, accessible city with some truly world-class hotels. In the off season (the hot summertime), those hotels can be had for a song.

It's also a place where dozens of outstanding restaurants call home. Here are some favorites we've found along the way...

THE GOOD EGG is a local chain of coffee shops. Although open all day, the specialty here is breakfast. We've had some delicious omelettes along with more traditional fare such as pancakes and bacon & eggs. All were very delicious and the service was top notch with reasonable prices.

REATA PASS used to be located way out in the middle of nowhere. It's an old 1882 stagecoach stop from the old west days that is now a steakhouse and bar. The middle of nowhere has now turned into just another neighborhood of huge, sprawling Scottsdale but this short stretch of Alma School Road will take you back to the days gone by. In the warm months, big juicy steaks are grilled under the stars while you're serenaded by country and western singers. The food's delicious and the view of the mountains and stars can't be beat. Prices here are very reasonable but you need to check with the bartender for the accessible route to the dining area. It's also a very long drive from downtown Scottsdale. Don't come here in the off season before April, though. The outdoor section is closed in the cooler weather. (Reata Pass has closed, unfortunately, for cowboy steaks, we now head north to the town of Cave Creek and Harold's Corral - Ed)

OLD TOWN TORTILLA FACTORY has an unfortunate name. It's kind of corny like the Old Spaghetti Factory and makes me think it will be kitschy...and maybe fun...but the food might not be so good. Nothing could be farther from the truth at this dinner only restaurant in downtown Scottsdale. The restaurant is housed in an old adobe residence with outdoor dining available on a cool tiled patio. There's a really neat fountain out there that spews fire along with the water. The bar (the tequilaria as it's called here) is located in another building across the patio from the restaurant proper. We had some delicious chorizo laced nachos for an appetizer followed by saucy chicken enchiladas and a Mexican style chicken croquette dish laced with Mexican crema. Very delicious and reasonably price at around ten dollars.

THE VILLAGE TAVERN located at the Gainey Village shopping center is like one of those classic national park lodges inside. The high ceiling is held aloft with huge, wooden beams with a big fireplace at one end of the dining room and the open kitchen at the other. Portions are huge here and prices are a little north of the mid-teens but the staff does not frown upon splitting entrees. My wife and I split the rib eye steak dinner here, which was very succulent, and had a double decker cheesecake for desert (cheesecake on one layer, chocolate mouse on the other...mmmmm!) and left with a bill under $35 dollars.

For truth in advertising, go no further than Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers in the heart of old Scottsdale for, well, great beer and cheeseburgers. The brunch is also outstanding and you'll never miss any sporting event at this well TV'd sports bar.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Bernard Gagnon under CC-BY-SA license

Friday, January 13, 2017

America's Breadbasket - California's Central Valley: Tulare County

Upon learning that we’d be going to one of his favorite restaurants in the world while he was at camp, Tim was not a happy camper. “Don’t worry,” I told him, “the weekend after you get back is a three day weekend…let’s go up there when you get home.”

Of course, if you followed our trip without Tim to Paso Robles, you’ll know that we had to make an emergency trip to pick him up because he got sick.  And sick he was for a couple of days.  We didn’t know if he’d be well enough by the weekend to go, but thankfully he did get better and off we went.

Watch the video!

The restaurant, as many of you who know us will already guess, is the wonderful Los Tacos de Huicho in Bakersfield, California which sits at the southern end of the San Joaquin, or Central, Valley.

Yes, we did go to Huicho’s and, yes, the food was as absolutely delicious as always, but this trip is not about Huicho’s or even one of our favorite destinations, Bakersfield, all that much.
After dinner, it’s back on the 99 north to our next stop about an hour’s north…the Charter Inn and Suites in Tulare.  The hotel, which sits adjacent to the freeway as Prosperity Avenue, is about the best hotel I know of in the Central Valley along the 99 corridor.
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Big, spacious rooms with a great hot breakfast buffet.  Monday through Wednesday, they also include dinner. There’s a lending library in the lobby, a nice pool area with spa, a patio area with a barbecue, and a very good staff.
Our room was a king size suite. Not technically accessible but at least as accessible as many other “handicap” rooms we’ve stayed in that didn’t feature a roll-in shower.  Wide access areas for the wheelchair, comfortable bed, a queen size sofabed, a large bathtub which more than accommodated our bath chair, and good wifi access.  There are even robes in the closet.  All for around $90 – 100 per night.
The Central Valley is the biggest agricultural area in the country. It’s not the California of beaches and palm trees, but plays a vital role in providing you with the food on your table. This morning, we’ll see some of that first hand.

After breakfast, it’s over to nearby Visalia where a farmers market sets up in the local Sears parking lot each Saturday.  It’s jammed packed with produce, cheeses, eggs, and more.  It’s not set up like a lot of farmers markets back home where there are more craft vendors and kiddie rides than there are farmers.  Here, while there are a couple of non-food vendors, it’s all about the food.
And the food is amazingly good. Sweet donut peaches, large red grapes, figs, oranges, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini bigger than my arm, and many items that, frankly, I have no clue what they are but they look delicious.
Our plan is to load up on all the fresh produce we can, keep it in our air conditioned hotel room, and then pack on ice for the trip home in the hot, valley summer heat.  It worked like a charm and we dined like royalty on all that farm-fresh produce for a couple of weeks.
Back at the hotel, we pack the most perishable items into the small in-room fridge, and turn the a/c up for the rest.  We have a nice swim in the pool and then head over to Hanford, which is about 15 miles west of us.
It’s the 4th of July weekend and the temps are over the century mark.  In downtown Hanford, it’s 106 degrees. Not a problem.

The main reason we’re here in this beautiful little town is ice cream. One of the state’s…and probably the country’s…great, classic ice cream parlors sits across the street from the town’s plaza.  We’re talking about Superior Dairy.
In this location over 80 years, Superior is a gorgeous, small town ice cream emporium with brass chandeliers, pink booths and counter stools, and some of the most generous portions of frozen cream you’ll ever see.

Letty has just one scoop of rocky road.

Tim and I share two scoops of cookies and cream, covered with a rich caramel sauce and whipped cream.  Look at those two pictures.  That is quality ice cream served in gigantic portions.  Together, that’s about $7 worth of dessert.

Superior is also known for their S-O-S (Superior Oversized Sundae) sundae, pictured above, a gargantuan banana split that can easily feed four or more.

The cold ice cream cools us down nicely from the furnace outside. We walk across the street to the shady park that houses some beautifully restored buildings…the Municipal Auditorium, the Veteran’s Memorial Hall, and the old courthouse…across the street from an equally impressive restored Fox Theater.
It’s shady, with a cool fountain, a couple of snack stand, and lots of cool grass to play or lay on.  We see this little parakeet, probably someone’s escaped pet, happily chewing on stalks of grass.
In the evening, it’s back over to Visalia to visit the Rawhide.

Just south of Visalia’s great and walkable downtown is Recreation Park, an old minor league stadium. The team, going through lots of names over its 65 year history, is currently affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rawhide are the Diamondbacks single A team playing in the California League.
In 2009, the stadium was renovated with new club level and grandstand down the right field/first base line. There are wheelchair seats along this area, where we sat, and also in the stands along the left field line.  There are a couple of accessible seats behind home plate about six rows back, but they’re behind an aisle and not too desirable.

Access to the level we sat at was via a slow, creaky lift that had to be repaired before we could use it…you can read more about in our stadium review.
At the game, it was a salute to military night with veteran’s throwing out the first pitch, different branches being honored each inning…i.e., one inning Navy active members and veterans were asked to stand up so the audience could applaud their service…another veteran singing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch, and…most poignant of all…cadets setting and serving a dinner to an empty table in front of the mound to POWs and MIAs who should be there but are not.
The game itself was pretty exciting with the Rawhide easily handling the visiting Lake Elsinore Storm…even though the PA announcer called them the Inland Empire 66ers for two innings before he caught on.
The food was miserable and delicious.  The miserable was the Italian sausage that Letty had, the delicious was the incredibly good bratwurst that I got to replace it from a grill near our seats. A very good selection of beer, including local microbrews, topped the concession selections.
All in all, a very fun game with just a couple of glitches. Visalia’s a very fun place to be.
In the morning, we checked out, shopped the outlet mall behind our hotel, and moved south to Bakersfield. Here we checked in to the Marriott Springhill Suites, which is pretty much our vacation condo these days with all the time we spend in this town.
We wanted to take one more night and go to Huicho’s one more time.  Before that, though, we went to our favorite bar. I’m a fan of the margarita and love when one is made right. Here in Bakersfield is one of the best.

Mexicali, on 18th Street on the eastern edge of downtown along Mill Creek, makes the best I’ve had. Their house margarita made from scratch is a tarty little piece of heaven. Their Cadillac margarita takes what is the best plain margarita I’ve had up several notches on the taste scale. It is the nectar of the gods.
Along with the great drinks, the bar here is so comfortable and the people so friendly that it feels like home, having drinks with some old friends.  A truly classic, great, and dark bar.
On the morning of the 4th, after a fitful night of sleep as some other rude guests were shooting off firecrackers in the parking lot (necessitating many calls to security) in the middle of the night, we check out and head to Huichos. (Note…after complaining at checkout, the hotel manager knocked our rate down to $50).
On Friday, the people at Huichos told us they would be open on the 4th.  Between then and now, someone must have changed their mind because now they’re closed. Darn!
We’d saved up our appetite for this and were now disappointed.  Back in downtown, we were looking for somewhere…pretty much anywhere…that would be open on this holiday.  I see a burger stand with people working out back so I pull in.
Juicy Burger is a Five Guys knockoff located on 24th and  M Streets, in the same building as the University of La Verne’s Bakersfield satellite campus.  It looks just like Five Guys when you walk in and has a very similar menu.  It also has both Coke and Pepsi machines, so Coke and Pepsi fans should all be happy here.
We order some burgers and fries, not really expecting much.
The burgers were amazingly good. Juicy, cooked to perfection, with great, tasty produce.  The fries were also good, not served in quite the heaps that Five Guys does, but the burgers were the star of the show here…incredible!
The staff here was very friendly and competent.  Each meal comes with a cookie but the counter person also gave me one to sample while we waited for our food.  Great food, great service, and fast food pricing.  What more could you want?  We now have another very good place to eat on our ever-growing and long Bakersfield food list…seriously, this is such a good food city.  Come here for that if nothing else.
I hunted down the manager and let her know just how much I loved this place.
Our appetites nicely sated, our disappointment at missing Huichos subsiding, we climb into the van to make that one last trip over the Grapevine to head back home.

Copyright 2011- Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Highlights and Lowlights

As the sun sets on 2016, we look back.

Not our busiest travel year but we still managed to hit the travel trail a bit last year, including to major international destinations. Gotta get our money's worth for those passports, you know...

HOTELS - One of the best hotels we've ever had the pleasure of staying in...and we've stayed in many...was the absolutely wonderful Hilton Prague. From the moment we stepped in the door, to the duty manager showing us a selection of rooms we could choose from, accessible bathing equipment we could choose from, very comfortable beds, quiet room with good view, great location, top-notch service from beginning to end, this was the best hotel we stayed in last year. (NOTE: This is not to be confused with the Hilton Old Town Prague a few blocks away)

Another nod to the great RIU Palace Hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The RIU's comfort, service, and amenities are top-notch. Stay in one if you ever get a chance.

We didn't stay in any really bad hotels this year but the Oxford Suites in Redding did not live up to expecations, especially as we've stayed in some very nice examples of the chain in Chico and Pismo Beach, California.  The Novotel Schwabing in Munich, Germany was also not as nice as we'd hoped it to be.

AIRLINES - Two this year, Alaska Airlines to Costa Rica provided outstanding service, comfort, on-time service, of all...price.  American (with a leg by British Airways) provided us with very good service over some very long hauls across the Atlantic. Again, no bad flight hassles due to airlines, which can be pretty rare.  On the other hand...

AIRPORTS - Munich and Liberia, Costa Rica airports let us down this year.  From waiting hours with no seating and no air conditioning tropical Daniel Odubor Quiros Airport to the lack of amenities in the older part of Franz Josef Strauss Airport (especially compared to the really excellent new terminal) was a huge letdown. Berlin's Tegel Airport wasn't much better.

RENTAL CAR - A huge raspberry for Alamo Rent-A-Car in Costa Rica for blatantly trying to rip off every customer to the tune of an extra $600 for insurance and making the check-in process as miserable and long as can be. Even when you showed written proof of extensive car insurance, valid in Costa Rica, that could cover everything imaginable, you are called a liar to your face and told no American insurance is valid there (which we found is not true). On top of that, you're stuck at their depot in the middle of nowhere with a two-mile walk back to the airport...unless you want to pay $35 per person to take their shuttle bus back. A true den of vipers there, taxis are much more honest, affordable, and even wheelchair accessible there. Skip the rental car in Costa Rica, it will truly ruin your trip.

On the other hand, Hertz in Berlin and Munich were very professional, friendly, and efficient in the handling of our vehicle there.

FOOD - We had some outstanding meals this year starting with a very memorable meal of pork knuckle and pirogies at Zajasd Lesny, a 24-hour truck stop diner in the southwest corner of Poland.

The Alte Heide biergarten had the best food in Munich with its pork Cordon Bleu, German meatloaf, and steak.

Again, Taste in the Motherlode town of Plymouth in California produced a wonderful dinner.

DESTINATIONS - We've cast our shadows on the beaches and jungles of Costa Rica; the remains of the Berlin Wall; the cobblestones of Prague; the truck stops of Poland; the biergartens of Munich; the waters and trees of Redding, California, along with the state's Motherlode country.

Costa Rica is much more accessible than I thought it would be and there are some great adventures to be had. Still, the beaches left something to be desired and I really felt I had to keep a good grip on my wallet for the next rip-off that could be around the next corner.  It was nice but not as nice as I'd imagined it would be.

Redding, and the area around it, is beautiful but a little on the quiet side.

Prague was too crowded and full of tourists to be really enjoyable but the residents of that old city are very friendly and accomodating to visitors like us.

Munich has been, and will always be, one of our favorite cities in the world to visit. Wouldn't even mind living there.

But this year's most enjoyable destination was the slightly grungy, sometimes dangerous feeling, always lively, at times drop-dead-gorgeous, and extremely drenched with history, Berlin. I cannot wait to come here again.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 6, 2017


We don't travel as much as we used to here at The World on Wheels but we still keep ourselves on the road a healthy bit.

2016 started off with a big bang for us as we toured and zip-lined through the jungles of Costa Rica.

The water on the Pacific Coast isn't all that clear, and there are a few people out there trying to scam you, but the Riu Palace was magnificent as always and the tropical jungles proved a lot more accessible than we'd imagined.

A Sunset article that glanced over our area without really knowing anything about it inspired me to write about some of the charming and overlooked downtowns in Los Angeles County.

A new light rail line made all the way out to our neighborhood in the eastern San Gabriel Valley which motivated us to explore our region a bit more and, since we weren't driving, led to not one but two Gold Line Pub Crawls.

It also led to a post about what there was to do in the immediate vicinity of the new line.

Another article visited some of the most historic restaurants you can still dine in in our neck of the woods.

June found us at the northern edge of our state where I stumbled up one of my old elementary school teachers completely by accident after 45 years apart in Redding, California.

After that, we got to deal with Tim's stomach issues back in the Motherlode.

The big kahuna of the year, though, was our grand European tour.

Starting in Berlin...

...a quick lap through Poland...

...a couple of nights in Prague...

and ending up with a week in one of our favorite cities in the world, Munich.

Along with Tim regaling with tales of living with cerebral palsy, me with some caregiver chronicles, and a few new Cocktail Hours sprinkled in between, that was our year.

Can't wait to see what 2017 brings.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 2, 2017

Enjoying Gentrification in the City of Roses

Once a year, Pasadena is a tourist hot-spot when the Tournament of Roses takes over New Year's Day. The rest of the time, you need a giant crowbar to get travelers to come east of the 110.

That's too bad because Pasadena is fun all year round.

Recently, the wife and I had a chance to take advantage of a day and date night in the Rose City but first, if you would like to come here, there are pricey but generally nice hotels in the Old Pasedena neighborhood (the center of the city's action)...such as the Westin, Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton, and the Sheraton...or you can stay a little farther east on Colorado Boulevard in less expensive digs like the Ramada, The Saga Motel, or the retro delights of the Hi Way Host. The Marriotts, Hiltons, Sheraton, and Ramada are your best bets for accessible rooms.

Cars are not really needed as Pasadena has tried to become a true transit destination. The Gold Line connects it to downtown Los Angeles through Union Station. Stations in Pasadena include Fillmore, Del Mar, Memorial Park (the Old Pasadena station), Lake, Allen, and Sierra Madre Villa in East Pasadena. Foothill Transit's 187 line connects all locations along Colorado Boulevard to the last four Gold Line stations and the Pasadena ARTS bus handles the rest of the city. All of it is 100% wheelchair accessible.

We start off with a shopping highlights tour for my wife. She likes to crochet and knit, so I take her to Abuelita's Yarn Shop located in a pretty little arcade at 696 East Colorado to visit with the friendly staff and get some quality yarn and needles.

Vroman's Bookstore is across the street and we wander over and browse the racks.

Next, we continue east on Colorado to a camera shop that sells used lenses but we just missed the 2:00 closing time.  My wife and I both like to check out pawn shops when we can.  We head to Diamond Jim's on Lake Avenue. The staff is friendly but the selection is light when we check it out so it's time to park it in Old Pasadena and head to Crown City Pawn with it's much larger selection of inventory. Still, we couldn't find anything we wanted to negotiate on.

We're parked at the One Colorado lot, one block north of Colorado Boulevard at Fair Oaks (the location of the Cheesecake Factory made famous by the Big Bang Theory...yes, it really exists) where we can leave the car all day on Saturday for six bucks. If you're driving and need accessible parking, in addition to the parking structure, there are about a half-dozen free handicapped spots directly behind it in the alley.

A lot of little shops and boutiques line Colorado and the side streets here. The Genius Bar at the Apple Store is always crowded but you can almost literally get away at the Distant Lands travel bookstore on Raymond (readers of this blog will love Distant Lands) or settle in for a nice pint at any of the several pubs here like Lucky Baldwin's or King's Row.

We're in need of a pick me up before dinner so we look for coffee. Just a quick cup of coffee, which we find is increasingly hard to do here. We settle for a pretentiously made cup of Balinese coffee served at a pretentiously high price after waiting twenty minutes for the Barista to make it "just so" at Copa Vida on the corner of Raymond and Green. Yes, we asked for, and said, just a plain old cup of coffee...that was the closest we could find.

A cupcake bakery was across the street so we went to check it out. Expecting more pretentiousness, we were surprised at the delicious and quite reasonably priced treats at Sugar Fix.

A last stop at the Container Store on the corner of Fair Oaks and Union finished off the shopping part of today's excursion. The Container Store is two stories tall, large elevators are available at the back of the store.

Dinner was a steak au poivre and a seafood pasta at the always reliable and reasonable Cafe Bizou on the corner of Raymond and Union, across the street from the Memorial Park Gold Line Station. We like to come here because we always get great food and service. The low $2 corkage fee is handy when I have a special wine like the 2006 Spencer Vineyards Cabernet that uses grapes grown in the same vineyard as Opus One..."almost Opus" as my wine merchant describes it. It is very good.

We end the evening a short block away watching "The Lego Movie" at iPic Theater.  The theater itself is pretty neat. Before the movie, there's a restaurant and cocktail lounge.

After a nice drink, Letty and I head into the theater itself where we are seated at power recliners, with blankets and pillows. A server comes up to take a drink order and we get a couple of sodas for the movie. Another server comes by to give us each a bag of popcorn.

It's very nice and plush but very expensive and you still have the same people annoying you as you do at a regular theater. I liked the move, not great, but fun...Letty couldn't stand it. You can see my review of "The Lego Movie" at Tim's TinseltownUSA blog.

With that, we call it a night and head home. It's always a lot of fun in Pasadena and this is just a tiny, little part of it.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Happy New Year's Day from The World on Wheels! In our neck of the woods, the biggest happenings for today is in Pasadena. Here's a little primer on the City of Roses.

Each New Year’s Day, you either want to be here or stay the hell away.  We’re talking about Colorado Boulevard, the main drag going down through Pasadena, California and the Tournament of Roses Parade that takes place the first day of each year…unless it’s a Sunday…and serves as the pre-game festival for the Rose Bowl.

Watch the video - "A Day Off in Pasadena"
Sitting just a 20 minute trolley ride northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena resides in L.A.’s orbit but is definitely its own city.  If you're in L.A., it's very easy to get here on the Gold Line train that runs from Union Station to 7 stations across Pasadena.  Once there, the ARTS or Foothill Transit line 187 buses can get you around the city easily...both are wheelchair accessible as is the Gold Line.
Where L.A. is car culture, Pasadena is actively trying to discourage its use.  L.A. is not known for being pedestrian friendly…it’s even hostile to the walker at times.  Pasadena is made for strolling.  Los Angeles is gritty, hard, unwilling to let its guard down.  Pasadena is genteel, reserved, pretty, and upscale. L.A. is Two and Half Men…Pasadena is The Big Bang Theory.
This city of just under 150,000 was founded in 1886 and is the second oldest incorporated city in Los Angeles County, younger only than Los Angeles itself.  It has presented the parade each year, except in war time, since 1890.  The Rose Bowl dates back to 1902.
Now, it’s a city of distinct neighborhoods stretching six exits along Interstate 210 between Glendale and Arcadia pushing up against the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Rose Bowl sits on the west side of town in Brookside Park.  Along with its famous New Year’s Day game, it is home to the Bruins football team from UCLA.  A huge flea market is also held here on the second Sunday of each month.  If you’re here on a non-event day, you can take a peek through the south entrance.
The area around the bowl is also popular with joggers and bikers.  Golfers can head out on the adjacent Brookside Golf Course.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Mike Dillon under CC BY-SA 2.5 license

Just south of here is Suicide Bridge…or as it’s officially known the Colorado Street Bridge.  This beautiful arched span crosses the Arroyo Seco right next to the 134 freeway and, as its nickname suggests, has seen a few jumpers in its time.

Move east along Colorado Boulevard and you enter into Old Pasadena, the heart of the city.  Here at the intersection of Colorado and Orange Grove is where the parade starts each year.  This is also where all the TV cameras set up and is what you see when you watch.
The Norton Simon Museum is on the north side of the street, an excellent art museum set up by the billionaire before he died.

This area is a hive of activity with dozens of restaurants, night clubs, bars, and shops.  The original Lucky Baldwins is on Raymond, just a couple of doors south of Colorado.  If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, this is the neighborhood that TV show is set in.  The Cheesecake Factory that Penny is supposed to work in is on the corner of Colorado and Fair Oaks.

Go a couple of blocks south of Colorado on Raymond Avenue and you’ll see the massive Green Street Apartments.  This was originally the Castle Green Hotel, Pasadena’s main hotel way back when.  It is now apartments but just about the only original old hotel building left in the city.
Moving east, you’ll get to the Playhouse District centered around the Pasadena Playhouse.  This historic theater is the official state theater of California and produces some great plays.  Across Colorado is Vromans, a very good and large bookstore.  If you’re hungry, stop into little Yahaira’s across from Vromans for some very good, artisanal Mexican food.  If you’d like something more traditional, El Portal…run by the parents of the man who owns Yahaira’s…is just behind it.
Going south on Los Robles, behind the big Paseo Colorado Mall, you’ll find the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.  
Just east of the Playhouse District is Lake Avenue, one of the city’s main North-South thoroughfares.  South of Colorado is a nice, trendy shopping area with a few good restaurants.  Diner fans will want to take a meal at Pie ‘n Burger, on California just east of Lake.  Skip Burger Continental, a locally legendary restaurant that has definitely seen better days.
Photo by Michael Slonecker

Head south on Allen and you'll end up in the parking lot of the Huntington Library and Gardens.  The former estate of Henry Huntington (of the Pacific Electric red car trolley system) is gorgeous.  Acres and acres of masterfully landscaped gardens along with a world class art museum makes this a wonderful place to spend an entire afternoon.
North of the freeway, Lake gets more ethnic and you’ll find many taquerias mixed in with some soul food and barbecue.
At the top of Lake Avenue are several trails leading up into the mountains.  There are the remains of a large estate here and you can walk over to the ruins of the Mt. Lowe Railroad that used to take tourists up to a grand resort on the mountain.  If you have the time and inclination, you can follow the roads and trails all the way up to the top of Mt. Wilson.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Ava Alamsha under CC BY 2.0 license
As we move ever east, the area around Pasadena City College (PCC) has many inexpensive eateries catering to students on a budget.  Zankou Chicken, just west of Hill Street, has some of the best rotisserie chicken you’ll find accompanied by their addictive, creamy garlic sauce.  North on Hill is the Dog Haus, which makes a variety of hot dogs and sausages.  The regular (snappy) and jumbo dogs are served on King’s Hawaiian rolls, which have a bit of sweetness to them.  The jumbos definitely go better with the sweet rolls.
We’re getting close to the edge of Pasadena when we move east to Rosemead Boulevard.  You won’t find too much here except for a few shopping centers and restaurants.  Nothing in this area really stands out but you can make your way over to Sierra Madre Villa and Foothill Boulevard and take the Gold Line light rail train back to the other end of Pasadena.
This is just a sample of what the city has in store.  There’s also the site of the original Busch Gardens, hiking in the Arroyo Seco, the Jet Propulsion Lab, and Cal Tech.  Tea at the Langham, drinks at the Raymond, and the world’s first Frisbee golf course. 

Although there are plenty of low budget and low quality motels along Colorado Boulevard, here are four hotels I can definitely recommend...the Courtyard by Marriott on Fair Oaks; the Sheraton on Cordova; the Hilton on Los Robles; and the best of them all, the Westin on Los Robles.
In Pasadena, you’ll find the antidote for that other big city to the south.
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved